I used it to paint a portrait, a commission piece that was rejected by the client, in exchange for a new attempt. Rather than stare at a portrait that made me sad, I painted over it with fresh white paint, ready to take on a new project, another day.
That day was last night.
Before I came into the studio, I went to the beach for an early evening swim. And the sky was spectacular. Like this...
Then I came into the gallery for the evening, and decided to paint what I had just seen. Grabbed the painted over canvas, put it on the easel and got to work. A family came in - mother, father, son and daughter, while the painting was at its earliest stage. Just some streaks of blue across the sky. I invited them to come back in after they'd eaten dinner, to see the progress.
They did. The painting was about 75% complete at that point. I invited the daughter, age 11, to take the brush and put a few strokes into the sky. She did, timidly. Then I invited her brother, 13, autistic, to do the same. He grabbed the brush boldly, and made one long, determined vertical stroke right in the middle of all of the horizontal clouds. And a grin spread, a wide one, across his face.
The family stayed a while, we chatted, it was a lovely visit.
After they left, I was faced with the decision of what to do with the painting. Should I "correct" that one bold vertical stroke, or simply leave it as is.
I opted for the latter. So that the painting might stand as a reminder to me of what is important. Because when they left, my thought was "THAT is the juice of life." It's not about how much I sell and it's not about being perfect in execution of the colors and strokes that make up a sunset. The creative process is about JOY. It is about sharing. It is about people, and beauty.
The blog I originally intended to write this week was going to be about life, and how we are reminded how precious it is only when we lose someone dear to us. So many of us mourned the suicide of Robin Williams... a man who most of us knew only as a comic genius on the tv, or in a movie. And we wondered how a man so loved, so funny, so brilliant and quick of wit, "successful" in the eyes of the world - how could he feel so unloved, so desperate, as to find the only way through life to be to find a way out of it.
I ran into a former co-worker in a store this week, and in a hurry, didn't bother to say more than a quick hello, and move on. I didn't take the time to stop, to ask how she was. And was horrified a few days later when I read the newspaper to discover that just a few days before I saw her, her thirty two year old son had died, tragically, unexpectedly. And I felt absolutely awful, in hindsight, for not having taken that extra minute to care. To connect.
Life offers us reminders of the impact of one small act of kindness. Sometimes on a grand scale, sometimes in the seemingly smallest of ways, but all important.
The painting stands. I find it a pretty cool "full circle" thing that the canvas originally bought for one with autism ended up being a source of delight to another of the same. Coincidence? I think not. God at work in the lives of all involved? Absolutely.
The next time I rush past someone I know, I pray that I will be more mindful, to take the time to connect. I pray I do not allow my own hurriedness to prevent an opportunity to show compassion, one that I missed, badly, this week.
I'm searching for a lofty last sentence and not finding one. I simply felt compelled to share, to inquire more deeply into my own feelings and reactions. If you read this, please comment. I've love to hear what you have to say.